About 80 Australians stranded in Corona virus-stricken India entered Darwin on their first repatriation flight after the Morrison government banned them from returning home.
More than 70 people were blocked from flying in the final hours on Friday, and 40 were unable to fly another 30 after a positive test of the Cove 19 because they were close contacts.
Negative PCR and rapid antigen tests had to be done before boarding any boarding.
The death toll from the virus rose to 4,000 in India for the third day in a row on Friday. More than 24 million cases have been confirmed in the country.
The State Department and the Commerce Department were working on Friday night to add other passengers to the flight, but it was not immediately clear how many people boarded.
There are strict procedures for preparing repatriation flights, including staying in a hotel for a period of time.
The 26 atri positive rate is much higher than the 3.5% rate registered in passengers on March return flights.
After 9 a.m. Saturday, a government-backed Qantas flight from Delhi to Darwin crashed. Passengers were to be transferred to the Howard Springs Quarantine facility.
Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said he was disappointed that those who tested positive would not be able to board the flight.
“My team has worked hard to get them to book this flight across India because they are at risk,” he told ABC.
“Unfortunately, these people will have to come back home and deal with the cavities they have, or continue to be isolated to prove that they do not have the cavities.”
“Unless they test negative, they will not be able to fly on any of these convenient flights.”
The flight from Australia to Australia-India on Friday included 1,056 ventilators, 60 oxygen concentrators and other essentials, an increase in medical supplies sent last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the controversial intermittent travel from India worked.
Over the past few weeks, the number of hotel quarantine cases has dropped by more than 40%.
In the Northern Territory, the number of active cases has dropped from 53 to six, including two U.S. Marines who have tested positive in the past 24 hours.
“The system is ready to respond,” Morrison said.
“If we hadn’t stopped, then I think we would have put ourselves in a position where (repatriation) would have been possible, not just for a few weeks, but in months, months and months.
“But the important thing is that we can do it now and do it safely and we can do it permanently and permanently and I’m glad we’re able to do that.”
The next government-sponsored flight from India is expected to take off for Darwin on May 23, giving it 40 such flights since March 2020.
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